Spain's new defense minister takes "working mom" to a whole new level

Filed under: Work Life, In The News

Spain's newly appointed defense minister made international news this week as she reviewed troops in Madrid and was sworn in. Not only is Carme Chacón, 37, the first woman to head Spain's armed forces, she is also seven months pregnant.

The sight of Chacón inspecting troops on her first day in office, a delicate maternity blouse billowing over her belly, blond hair was blowing in the breeze, came as a shock. Her appointment however, came as no surprise: Spain's prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who was reelected for a second term last month, has consistently demonstrated his commitment to gender equality, and has appointed more women than men to his cabinet.

Spanish feminists say that the fact that people were shocked to see a pregnant woman heading up Spain's troops is is exactly the point. "It's an important image precisely because it conveys normality," says Marisa Sotelo, president of the Madrid' based Women's Foundation. "It serves a pedagogic function: it shows that women can be and are everywhere."

Working mom's arguably have the hardest jobs in the world, no matter what they do: they are expected in many ways to be superwoman, pouring 100% of their energy into their jobs, and then another 100% into their kids. One can only imagine the standard to which Chacón will be held to by her colleagues, and the general public.

Without a doubt Chacón will be expected to demonstrate that she is capable of the position, and already her first challenge is looming: will she take the 4 months of maternity leave she is entitled to? And perhaps more pressingly, can she afford to do so? By comparison, men are only given slightly more than 2 weeks paternity leave.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.